Category Archives: Healthcare Partners

CON receives $50,000 in scholarship money from Intermountain Healthcare


Pictured from left to right are Brenda Voisara from Intermountain Healthcare HR department, Cosmo, Dean Patricia Ravert, and Nathan Peterson of the Community Giving department.

By Quincey Taylor

Recently the College of Nursing accepted a generous donation of $50,000 from Intermountain Healthcare. Intermountain has donated to the college before, and college officials wish to express their deep gratitude.

Every semester, students come to BYU not knowing exactly how they will be able to pay for tuition. That is where donations like this comes in. This money will go towards helping students through scholarships. Intermountain hopes their donation will promote diversity in the student population.

Diversity in the student population can mean many things. It can mean promoting racial or ethnic minorities at BYU. It can mean being male in a typically female-dominated field. It can mean returning to school at a non-traditional age or time of life. It can mean helping students from different socioeconomic backgrounds or starting a BYU legacy with a first-generation student.

Cara Wiley from the College of Nursing Advisement Center explains that they are also looking for potential scholarship recipients that have had diverse experiences with different populations around the world. An example would be students with a women’s studies minor, which has its own study abroad across four different countries where students focus on helping women specifically.

When asked why Intermountain is giving scholarships to promote diversity, Wiley says, “They are trying to diversify their workforce. To do that, you diversify the students that will become your workforce.” They will begin picking candidates for scholarships in the fall, and hope to find those that can contribute to the diversity of the nursing program.

Wiley is so thankful for the donation and stresses, “This is a huge benefit for our students. It’s also a benefit to the college because it can be used in a variety of ways…There are a lot of students who have financial needs, a lot more than anyone thinks. There are some that are really having some serious struggles and it’s nice to have this kind of donation. Students’ thank-you letters say it all, you can feel their appreciation and love.”


All Hands on Deck: BYU Nursing Students Onboard the USNS Mercy

By Calvin Petersen

As BYU nursing students and faculty boarded the thousand-bed floating hospital moored in San Diego Bay, they realized their experience on the USNS Mercy was going to be more than just salutes and strict rules. Over the next two days, they had the unique opportunity to see firsthand how the military cares for its veterans.

A Rare Invitation

The San Diego trip resulted from a phone call Dr. Kent Blad received one sweltering morning last summer. Blad is a teaching professor and director of the veteran global health program at the BYU College of Nursing. When he answered the phone, Blad was surprised to hear the man on the other end introduce himself as lieutenant commander of the USNS Mercy, the hospital ship commissioned to serve the Pacific fleet. In addition to supporting military personnel with medical and surgical services, the Mercy undertakes humanitarian relief missions.

The Mercy’s lieutenant commander had read about BYU’s veteran global health course, co-taught by Blad and assistant teaching professor Stacie Hunsaker. He asked, “What can you tell me about what I just read?” “Funny you ask,” Blad replied, “I’ve been waiting for this phone call.”

By the end of the conversation, the lieutenant commander invited Blad, Hunsaker and their nursing students to San Diego to tour the Mercy and Naval Medical Center San Diego. Naval Medical Center San Diego is one of three major U.S. polytrauma centers that serve wounded warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“That was the first time we’ve received an invitation,” explains Blad, “Usually we go out there and beg, ‘Can we please come do this?’ And he asked, ‘Can you please come here?’”

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When the USNS Mercy is en route, nurses do simulations, much like at BYU’s NLC, to keep their skills sharp.

First-class Veteran Care

Although veteran global health students travel to Washington D.C. each spring to tour military medical facilities, Blad and Hunsaker felt the additional trip to San Diego would further enrich the students’ military cultural understanding. What the two professors didn’t know was how beneficial the experience would be for them as well.

“I’ve cared for veterans, but until being with them an entire day and spending that time, it was hard to understand the magnitude of the military in their lives,” says Hunsaker, “It’s a part of them, it’s not just a little job. They’re part of a military family, they have a set of beliefs and they love their country. And they really are willing to do whatever needs to be done to serve it. I don’t think I ever knew, to that extent, and hadn’t felt as grateful as I should to them.”

Jeana Escobar, one of the global health nursing students on the trip, learned that veteran care starts with the basics. “Every Navy sailor we met said the same two things: first, that every veteran has a story and you should take time to listen to it and, second, veterans don’t want your sympathy. Veterans want you to listen to them and tell them what they need to do to progress in the healing process.”

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BYU nursing student Jeana Escobar practices CPR on one of the USNS Mercy’s simulation lab manikins.

Students repeatedly saw nurses’ compassionate care for veterans as they toured Naval Medical Center San Diego’s facilities. A therapist working in the wounded warrior unit even confessed that, after starting work with “these brave men and women,” he would find himself crying randomly because of so much pent-up emotion.

The hospital’s courtyard, which was retrofitted with different terrains and a rock climbing wall for amputees to practice using new prosthetic limbs, impressed several students. “I was especially touched by what the physical therapist shared with us about the rock wall,” says nursing student JeriAnn Pack. “He described how, when someone is discouraged and thinks they will never progress, they can look up and see someone with an injury as bad or worse than their own climbing the wall. I can only imagine how inspiring that would be.”

“The students learned very quickly to appreciate these men and women and the part that nursing plays in helping these veterans recover,” Blad says of the nurses on the Mercy and in the naval hospital. “It truly is the Healer’s art in action. The love they have for their country and their patients is inspiring. We could all be more like that with any of our patients.”

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An Unforgettable Experience

The Navy specifically planned the two-day trip in February to meet College of Nursing veteran global health objectives. In addition to touring the Mercy’s simulation center and hospital facilities for a day, students spent a day at the USS Midway Museum, as well as at Navy facilities on the base. “They really took their time and effort and energy, not only to make us feel welcome, but to help us in educating our students,” says Hunsaker.

To several students, the highlight of the trip was a panel where Navy officers and nurses shared their perspectives and personal stories of how they came to join the military. “It was really cool to see how different everyone was, and that they had all been brought to this common cause,” says nursing student Lauren Bretzing.


“They don’t have amazing living quarters,” says Heather Wilkinson. Seven nursing students show how cramped living quarters on the USNS Mercy are.

For students like Heather Wilkinson, who had previously interacted with elderly veterans, seeing young men and women recovering from current conflicts changed her perception of what a typical veteran looks like. Other students were impressed with the camaraderie and respect of military culture. Undoubtedly each student thought, as Breeze Hollingsworth did, “Maybe military service will be in my future and maybe not. But one thing is for sure: I want to better serve all veterans and active service men and women I come across.”

Because the San Diego trip was such an all-around success, the Navy has already invited Blad and Hunsaker’s class to come again next year. “We feel very strongly that our nurses need to learn how to care for veterans,” says Blad. “It doesn’t matter where they go or what hospital they serve in, as long as they’re within the United States, they’re going to be caring for veteran patients.”

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Volunteers at BYU Craft 301 Yarn Wigs for Children Battling Cancer

By Calvin Petersen

More than 500 people sacrificed sleep and St. Patrick’s Day plans to make yarn wigs for child cancer patients at the Magic Yarn Project’s largest-ever wig workshop. Co-hosted by the Magic Yarn Project and BYU College of Nursing, the event on March 17 was the second workshop of its kind.

“No one leaves these workshops without a smile on their face or without feeling like their simple act of love will make the world a better place. I love being able to witness that in their countenances,” said Holly Christensen, BYU alumna and co-founder of the Magic Yarn Project.


The Magic Yarn Project began in 2015 when Christensen crafted a yarn Rapunzel wig for her friend’s daughter, who had lost much of her hair in chemotherapy. Now three years later, the Magic Yarn Project has made the world a better place for over 7,000 children battling cancer in 36 countries. Each of these children has received a hand-made princess or pirate yarn wig at no cost. Wigs take approximately two hours to make and are crafted by volunteers at wig workshops.


Wig workshop volunteers pose with 301 completed wigs after the service event on March 17, 2018.

“It was a huge success!” Christensen said of this year’s BYU wig workshop. While most of the wigs will be distributed by BYU nursing students during their clinicals at Primary Children’s Hospital, Ryver had the chance to choose her wig in person. She wore an Anna wig and a wide smile as her mother pushed her around the Wilkinson Ballroom in a stroller. Not even three years old, Ryver was diagnosed with leukemia only a few months ago.

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“It was heart-warming to see Princess Ryver light up when she got her wig, and equally rewarding to see her mother get excited about picking out a wig with her. Ryver’s presence definitely made the workshop memorable and was a sweet reminder that this is what the project is all about,” said Christensen. For her, the experience of personally gifting a wig was rare; most wigs are mailed to individuals and cancer centers around the world.


The wig workshop at BYU brought the community together. Among the hundreds of volunteers knotting, braiding and decorating yarn hairpieces was 17-year-old Connor Munden. His grandmother’s involvement in the Magic Yarn Project Utah Chapter inspired an Eagle Scout Service Project to prepare for BYU’s workshop. Along with family and friends, Connor cut most of the yarn—thousands of feet of it—that eventually became 301 completed wigs.


In addition, students from BYU and members of the Magic Yarn Project Utah Chapter volunteered to teach those coming to the workshop how to make various wigs. “This event helped me realize there are lots of different ways to serve those with cancer,” said Maggie Gunn, a BYU nursing student and wig instructor at the workshop, “We may not be able to cure their cancer, but we can provide comfort and love which, in my opinion, is just as important as the chemo.”

“With the Magic Yarn Project, there’s something for everyone,” concluded BYU nursing student Jessica Small, “Whether bedazzling flowers or tying yarn to a wig, people of all ages can come together and make a difference in the lives of so many children.”

Next year’s BYU wig workshop will take place on March 16, 2019. To learn more about the Magic Yarn Project, visit

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“Everyone knows someone who has struggled with cancer: a family member, friend, patient or ward member. While we can’t cure someone’s cancer, we can help, comfort and love them. Making these wigs is a way to show child cancer patients that they’re loved,” said Jane Goodfellow, a fourth-semester BYU nursing student. Goodfellow (right) is pictured with fellow nursing student Leah Guerrero (left). The two volunteered as instructors at the wig workshop.



“A Really Good Big Deal”

Conducting cancer research with some of the best scholars in the field? Working in world-class facilities? Plus a stipend? And getting your name on a published article as an undergrad?

While this may sound too good to be true, three BYU College of Nursing students will be living the dream while working as student interns over the summer at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC). The students—James Reinhardt, Christin Hickman, and Cortney Welch—will not only contribute to the fight against cancer, but also gain invaluable research and publishing skills that they can use to improve BYU’s own cancer research program.

BYU has a long of history of involvement in cancer studies. Currently, cancer studies is managed through the Simmons Center for Cancer Research (SCCR), which arranges for students to work with BYU professors to investigate cancer. Lately, there has been an emphasis on connecting the SCCR with outside locations as well.

“[The SCCR’s] director, Merrill Christensen, has been looking for opportunities for our students to go away from the BYU campus, get a research experience, and then ideally come back to BYU and share with colleagues, including professors that they might RA for,” explains assistant professor Dr. Deborah Himes.

Himes, whose own research focuses heavily on cancer, played a major role in promoting the internship to students and helping them with the application. One unique aspect of the OSUCCC internship is that students had to choose what areas of cancer research they wanted to work in for the summer, and Himes aided students with understanding the different options.

The internship, she explains, is a wonderful opportunity for students to be involved in the research process.

“They’re going to be immersed full-time in a lab, working with professors who are doing current research, and they will be given a small piece of that research to work with some,” she says. The students will analyze that data and derive conclusions from it. They will present that information in a poster, and then later will present it orally to a panel of PhD professors. Following that, they will be able to publish their research in a scholarly article.


Right to left: James Reinhardt, Cortney Welch, Christin Hickman

For the students, the opportunity to complete the internship has a surreal feeling to it, especially since they will be doing real research with real data with established professionals in the field of cancer research.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how the research process works,” Welch says. “I’ve never been a part of research before, so I think this is something really interesting and important to let me know how I can contribute to research in the future and to get my foot in the door.”

One factor that drives the students is an interest in studying cancer.

“I’ve just always had this desire because I feel like cancer is something so mysterious—like, nobody has come up with a direct cure for it quite yet,” says Hickman. “I want to be able to help find that cure or at least find a prevention for cancer and then like I said, there’s not many opportunities for nursing students really to have this kind of cancer research internship.”

Reinhardt is interested in finding out if cancer research is something he would enjoy or not. Last year, he participated in a movement where he rode his bike to raise money for cancer research. Now he feels that he is contributing to the fight against cancer with a new approach.

“I’ve already fulfilled one part of that passion by riding for it and fundraising for it, but it will cool to see that this is the education and informational part of the same disease process,” he says. “Instead of fundraising, I’m learning about it to help in a different way.”

Overall, there is a consensus that the opportunity is, as Himes puts it, a “really good big deal.”

BYU College of Nursing Faculty and Students Get a Crash-Course in Lobbying

How do you get a Congress member to support funding for international child vaccinations? As much as that sounds like the start of a bad joke, last month several BYU College of Nursing faculty and students were taught that the best way is to just go to his or her office and convince them yourself. Then they did it.


Associate professor Dr. Beth Luthy, assistant professor Dr. Janelle Macintosh, assistant teaching professor Gaye Ray, and assistant teaching professor Lacey Eden were joined by graduate students Sarah Davis, Morgan Bateman, Chelsea Schult, and Katie Hill for the trip, organized by Shot@Life.

“[Shot@Life] is part of UNICEF and the goal for Shot @Life is to maintain funding for global immunizations so they work with UNICEF to provide that funding,” Eden explains.

The organization, which is part of the United Nations Foundation, selects and trains established vaccine advocates (labelled “champions”) on how to lobby for international child vaccination funding.

“We had the opportunity to learn how to do it last year, and it was very obvious that we needed to bring students to have this same experience since you can’t match it,” Eden says.

The professors announced the opportunity to the graduate students, and many had their interest piqued. Four students filled out the rigorous application and were accepted to the program.

“For me, I think it seemed like the perfect mix of policy and global health and seeing how the two meet together, and that just really fascinates me,” Bateman explained. Other students had participated with Luthy in a meeting of the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines in December, which laid the groundwork for their interest in the Shot@Life event.

The conference, which was held February 11-14, started with a day of training on effective lobbying. Professional lobbyists and representatives from groups like the World Health Organization offered instruction in the art of the elevator pitch and winning over policymakers.

“They just said to speak to what your representatives are interested or passionate about,” Hill says. “Coming from Utah, we were encouraged to go for the global safety/safety of the United States because there is so much travel back and forth that just because we’re helping people in other countries doesn’t mean that it isn’t beneficial to the United States.”


“Another thing I was impressed with was they told us to make it personal so that when you go and meet with these people you show your passion, you show why you traveled across the country for this cause,” Bateman says.

This passion was also combined with numbers to make the argument stronger.

“They trained us on specific talking points,” Davis says. “It was not only why are we involved and why are we passionate about immunizations globally, but also gave us the tools to use the facts.”

“We talked about the cost effectiveness of international vaccines, and how for every dollar spent on a childhood vaccine is like a $44 savings for the US in the long run,” Hill says.


“They had people from the top lobbying firms come,” Luthy says. “Your whole day prior to ‘Hill Day’ is all preparation and then you have ‘Hill Day’ which is all day.”

“Hill Day” is when the students and faculty are sent to visit different congressional representatives and lobby them to support vaccinations. The process requires that students and faculty step out of their comfort zones and interact with politicians and staffers.

“Shot@Life actually sets up appointments with different congressmen and they take a group of us and we just walk around the capital and go to the different offices,” Eden says.

As they went about their lobbying rounds, the students were surprised by how much of a difference they felt they could make as they visited different offices.

“It was really awesome,” Hill says. “I don’t think I had any idea how much your representatives actually care about what their constituents think.”

“What surprised me is that for the most part our representatives and our senators are accessible,” Bateman says. “You may not be meeting with the senator or the congressperson themselves, but someone is there that you can meet with. I think that that’s what America is all about—it’s making your government officials accessible.”

One of the trip’s highlights was a personal meeting the students and faculty had with Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. He expressed his support for Shot@Life’s goals, and the students were able to ask him about lessons he had learned from serving so long in Congress.

Overall, students came away from the experience with a stronger appreciation for their own capabilities to bring about change as citizens.

“I think it was an empowering experience,” Luthy says.


“I think a lot of them developed a passion for advocacy and that they could actually make a difference and learn how to get involved,” Eden says. “Being out here in Utah you feel like you can’t do anything about what’s going on in Washington D.C., but to be actually be out there and see that show that there’s potential.”

“Going forward, it encourages me to be more involved in issues that I feel strongly about whether they’re global health type things or they’re issues impacting Utah families right here within our own state as well as policy issues for increased practice for nurse practitioners, anything like that,” Davis says. “I feel like I want to have more of a voice because I see that you really can make a difference.”

“This experience showed to me that you don’t have to be in Africa, you don’t have to be in Southeast Asia to make a difference,” Bateman says. “It doesn’t have to be this grand thing—you can do things here in your own country, here in your own state to make an impact on global health.”

Now that the students are returned, they have the opportunity to continue their advocacy work. Shot@Life, Luthy explains, expects students to follow-up on the meetings they had in Washington D.C. and remain involved in promoting childhood vaccination funding.

“It’s fun to go to this summit and get all fired up and meet with lots of other people, but the work continues throughout the year to make sure that we are raising awareness for vaccines and the importance of global vaccines,” Hill says.

The Importance of Apologies

Marie Prothero received the college’s 2016 Alumni Achievement Award in recognition for her contribution to the nursing profession. This article contains excerpts from her BYU Homecoming address, delivered October 13, 2016.

“I believe that for us to move healthcare forward into achieving quality healthcare and outcomes, [we must] have transparency,” says Marie Mellor Prothero (MS ’96), MSN, RN, FACHE. A nurse administrator, Prothero is the executive director of quality for St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. She oversees quality assurance for her organization that includes electronic reporting, patient concerns, and physician compliance. She also strives to improve process flow and safety efforts.

Prothero is currently working on a PhD in nursing from the University of Utah; her dissertation is focused on transparency in healthcare and the role of an apology following a medical error.

The attributes of an apology include expressing regret and sorrow, admitting fault with a statement that an error occurred, listening with dignity and respect, correcting the mistake and ensuring it will not happen again, and offering restitution to the victim.

Her studies highlight several antecedents, such as why we apologize and the corollaries of not apologizing when there is a medical mistake or accident.

“We must realize [that the] consequences of not apologizing affects our emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being,” says Prothero. “And if left unresolved, [mistakes] can create feelings of bitterness and even increase litigation and settlement costs.”

To give an effective apology, one must express regret and sorrow; you cannot fully apologize without remorse. “A conversation casually informing a patient of the error is inadequate,” says Prothero, “and so is a statement that seems forced and insults others’ intelligence.” Appropriately apologizing takes the right setting and practice.

Prothero’s research serves as a starting point for additional inquiry to explore the nature and types of apologies. It will help other nurse leaders identify what comes after the apology and if the patient-provider relationship can be repaired.

“There must be ongoing communication as additional details are learned—with the patient and family members, as well as with unit staff and hospital administrators,” she says. “Once we identify system changes, we need to involve others in the process to ensure needs are met and proper training occurs.”

Further, Prothero’s studies clarify the role of nursing in disclosure, apology, and the creation of a culture of safety in which everyone feels valued and able to speak up. “We must continue the important work of quality assurance, process improvement, and system improvement,” she says. “Never forget that every patient matters.”

She also emphasizes that nurses have the opportunity to be leaders with a broad impact in their organization.

“Leadership is interdisciplinary and [is] a team approach,” she says. “You must know your strengths and weaknesses and understand what you bring to the team. Then surround yourself with people who are different from you and learn from each other for success.”

Prothero has been a leader her whole career. Before St. Mark’s, she was the CEO of Utah Valley Specialty Hospital in Provo for seven years, a CEO of Ernest Health for four years, and an operations officer with Intermountain Healthcare for 22 years.

“Never stop learning and developing your nursing and leadership skills,” she concludes. “Success comes from ensuring the success of your peers. Take time to remove roadblocks, recognize achievement, and encourage others. By being a positive influence, you can see the best in your team.”


Immunization Exemptions and Pediatric Care

As a family nurse practitioner working in a pediatric outpatient clinic, assistant teaching professor Lacey Eden (BS ’02, MS ’09) educates parents about the general health of their child. Eden frequently addresses parents’ questions and concerns regarding immunizations for their child due to the requirement that parents provide either proof of completion or a certificate of exemption before their child can be enrolled in school.

Because of her experiences talking with parents about immunizations, Eden decided to research the rising immunization exemption rates in Utah. She is currently working on a standardized education module for immunization exemptions and also a mobile app called Best for Baby.

Education Model for Immunization Exemption Rates

Immunization exemption rates, particularly those granted for philosophical reasons, have risen drastically in Utah over the last few years. The rise in exemptions may have played a role in several recent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases (measles and pertussis) in Utah, which prompted Eden to research the education provided for parents who wish to obtain an exemption. Currently she is investigating the specific education requirements for philosophical immunization exemptions in all states across the country and how effective this education is at combating the rise in exemption rates.

In her research, Eden found that all 50 states allow medical exemptions for immunizations, 48 states allow religious exemptions, and 18 states allow philosophical exemptions. Utah is one of the 18 states that allows all three types of exemptions. While 18 states allow philosophical exemptions, only 14 states require education before granting exemptions. The type of education parents receive varies from state to state and from county to county throughout Utah.

Eden has discussed her study with several prominent leaders of various associations and departments, including the health director and the immunization manager at the Utah State Health Department and the chair of the Utah Department of Human Services, in efforts to implement a standardized education module for Utahns to complete in order to gain a philosophical immunization exemption. She has also been invited to participate on an immunization exemption task force with several key participants in the state and with fellow College of Nursing faculty—Dr. Beth Luthy (MS ’05), Gaye Ray (AS ’81), Dr. Janelle Macintosh, and Dr. Renea Beckstrand (AS ’81, BS ’83, MS ’87). This task force is charged with creating a standardized education module that can teach parents the signs and symptoms of diseases, what to do if their child contracts a disease, and what to do in the case of an outbreak. The module will also answer frequently asked questions about immunizations and provide information about obtaining low-cost immunizations.

The Association of Immunization Managers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have contributed to this project by aiding in the data-collection process and reviewing the research questions on educational requirements in reducing immunization exemptions.

Best for Baby App

In 2013, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) published its recommendation that pregnant women should get a Tdap vaccination between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. Infants do not receive this vaccine until two months of age, but in the womb they do inherit temporary protective antibodies from their mothers, so it is essential for mothers to receive the vaccine and pass antibodies to their children in utero.

Despite being recommended by the ACIP, very few women receive the Tdap vaccine during their third trimester, so Eden, who serves as chair of the Utah County Immunization Coalition, decided to educate soon-to-be parents through a free mobile-device app called Best for Baby (now available on iTunes).

Though geared toward increasing Tdap immunization rates, the app does much more than just teach about vaccines. The program sends expectant parents weekly push notifications that provide updates on their baby’s development and when they need to see their OB/GYN. Additionally, updates tell parents what tests to expect at their next appointment, what those tests look for, and why they are performed. The app continues to give parents monthly push notifications for two years after the birth of the child. These updates include when the child should see a care provider, what developmental milestones he or she should reach during the month, and what immunizations that child should receive.